Following on from Trollope’s bicentenary last year we now have Charlotte Bronte’s bicentenary. There is a small exhibition of portraits and artifacts associated with Charlotte which can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It gives a tantalising glimpse into the world of the Brontes. Charlotte began writing stories at a very young age and kept them in tiny handmade books crammed with almost indecipherable handwritten text and the exhibition has an example on display.
Also on display is the portrait of the three sisters painted by their brother Branwell. It is in poor condition having been kept folded up on top of a wardrobe for decades. The decision was taken not to restore the painting but to leave it in its damaged state. Charlotte is on the right of the painting. The shadowy figure painted out and replaced by the pillar between Charlotte and her sisters is a self-portrait by Branwell who decided the balance of the picture would be better without him.
For those who want to hear more about Charlotte, there is an excellent documentary on the BBC World Service: